When school bags are too heavy, not lifted properly or carried on one shoulder it leads to straining of the soft tissues in the back. Daily repetition of these activities promotes incorrect posture, damage to the spine, permanent structural deformities and muscular tension throughout the body.

Lahore, Punjab: Marham an educational forum hosted a live online event on September 18, 2017, about school bag syndrome awareness and education at their headquarters. Dr. Farrukh Ali Chaudhary consultant neurologist in USA and Pakistan joined Marham to share knowledgeable insights on this neglected issue crucial to the health of growing kids.

School bag syndrome refers to the physical and emotional impacts kids experience because of the weight of their school bag. How can you find out whether your child is suffering from school bag syndrome or not? There is a number of evident symptoms that you may notice. These include

    Headache

    Pressure behind eyes

    Pressure overhead

    Concentration and memory problems

    Irritability

    Neck pain

    Dizziness

    Shoulder pain

    Arm numbness

    Changes in handwriting and dexterity

    Leg stiffness

    Loss of energy

People who can participate to resolve this issue include children themselves, parents and school. A number of measures can be taken including few mentioned below.

    The backpack should not weigh more than 10-15% of total body weight of the child.

    Two-strapped bags with wide padded shoulder straps should be used.

    The bag should be adjusted to be carried 2-3 inches above the waist.

    Correct lifting techniques should be used that is bending at knees and lifting.

    Students should carry only required books and stuff.

    Follow an active lifestyle, eat healthily and exercise regularly to maintain strong and flexible back and trunk musculature.

    Use of vitamins and nutritional supplements may help address any nutritional deficiencies.

    Parents should educate correct lifting techniques and sufficient packing of the school bag.

    School bags with multiple pockets should be used.

    Using the pocket closest to back for heavier books and packing lighter ones in front pockets effectively distributes weight.

Schools can help in sharing the bad load by providing book storage space for every class. When estimated it cost only 50 Rs/child /year for the school to arrange cupboards for each class.

To save our children from physical and psychological implications of heavy school bag, it is need of the hour to spread the word and educate masses about it. Please share and help us in spreading it.

Published in Young Nation Magazine on October 7, 2017